Managing Boundaries

Many people struggle with boundaries. They are often the challenging part of handling relationships, and represent the line between you and others. Your sense of what this line is like in relation to specific people is a good place to start thinking about putting better boundaries in place for yourself.

Managing boundaries can be an emotionally painful process, as we face the reality of how we feel about ourselves and others in our lives. This can include wanting a version of someone that isn’t consistently available to us in the way we would like. For example: a parent, friend, or partner that treats you badly.

We may also feel negatively towards ourselves when we don’t maintain our boundaries, so the way we see ourselves is affected. We might even start to lose our sense of where that boundary is, especially if the interpersonal dynamics touch on elements of our relational history. It can be hard to get a clear sense of what’s going on, and what to do about it to make it stop.


Here are some helpful questions to consider in evaluating your boundaries, and start putting better ones in place:

Is this a person who will be open to negotiating the boundaries of our relationship with me?

If not, why not/if yes, how so?

If we can’t negotiate boundaries safely together, what are the steps I need to take to put something in place on my own?

If I need to take steps on my own, who can I ask for practical and emotional support along the way?

What’s my bottom line? Can I communicate and/or put this in place earlier on, so that I’m less compromised?

How am I negatively affected by having my boundaries crossed?

Is my tendency to have my boundaries pushed linked to what I believe I should be to/for others? What other role, if any, would I like to take up instead?

Are there things people say/do to me that reinforce my belief that it’s okay to have my boundaries crossed? What can I tell myself to start changing this belief?

It can be helpful to think about these questions yourself, with someone you trust, or writing it down. These are part of the commitments you can make to yourself in setting up, and sticking to, your personal boundaries.

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